It is FOR and ABOUT authors. Here we shine the light on authors who we’ve read, reviewed and recommend to others. In this edition we are shining our light on another gifted author…
Baye McNeil is a writer, blogger, teacher, and amateur photographer from Brooklyn, New York. He has been living in Japan for nearly a decade where he is known by the moniker Loco due to the success of the blog he founded in 2008 called Loco in Yokohama. LIY has risen to become one of most famous Japan-related English language blogs in the country mostly on the strength of thoughtful and incisive posts about life in Japan for a black New Yorker since 2008 and his courage to take on controversial subject matter such as race and identity.
He is also the founder of Hunterfly Road Publishing through which he published his first book on race relations both in New York and Japan called: Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist. It has been well reviewed and was listed as one of the top books of 2012 by noted book critic Kam Williams.
He teaches JHS English in Yokohama Japan, where he has resided for the past decade, and just happens to be the setting of his upcoming collection of humorous anecdotes and thought-provoking essays entitled: Loco in Yokohama. This title will be published in early Autumn 2013. He will also be publishing a photo essay on street and subway life in Japan through the eyes of a perpetual outsider called Loco's Motives in early 2014.
McNeil has a pretty active cyber-life. He posts and interacts with friends and fans daily on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr and several others. While McNeil's life is his work, he enjoys his down time which he spends reading books, playing basketball with his boys, watching a crap load of movies, eating Ramen by the vat, and luxuriating at Japan's ample hot springs.
GETTING TO KNOW BAYE…
What is your favorite TV show of all-time, meaning you've seen all episodes, can watch it over and over again and quote lines from it? Definitely "The West Wing." Best writing, directing, character development. Funny, moving, educational, sophisticated, complex characters. Can't ask for more. All seven seasons I watch at least once a year, West Wing-a-thons get me pumped and ready to write. I loved when President Bartlett would say, "OK, what's next!" His favorite line.
What is your favorite cereal? Without a doubt, Honeycombs, with Corn Pops (formerly Sugar Pops) a close second.
What would you call yourself if you could choose your own name? Actually, I did choose my own name, Baye, when I was six years old. It's a long story but the short version is I went to an elementary school where every student had to have an African name, and we were encouraged to choose it ourselves. I chose Baye, and the name has been with me ever since.
What did you want to be when you were little? First dream job: Motor Man for the NYC Transit Authority. I've wanted to drive a train all my life and that fascination with trains continues til this day.
If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would it be and with whom?
I would go back to Bequia, a tiny island off the coast of St. Vincent in the Grenadines. Most beautiful place I've ever been. And I would probably be accompanied by the amour du jour.
If you had a 60-second Super Bowl advertisement, what would you want to show a billion people? I would try my best to encapsulate in 60 seconds exactly how fear works, how to identify it and how to overcome it. In my opinion, fear, in its many manifestations, is culpable in virtually every serious problem that confronts us as a species, anywhere on this planet. If we could just recognize it, in all of its forms, and address it perhaps one day we'd be able to overcome it and together progress to that Higher Ground Stevie Wonder sang of and John Lennon Imagined.
If you could be any age again, how old would you be? If I could know what I know now, I'd like to be 14. Then I would have stayed away from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco and spent most of my free time at a piano or with a guitar, paintbrush, microphone or pen in hand. If not, 35. That's about the time I started figuring out who I was and what I was capable of accomplishing in this lifetime.
If you could have a conversation with someone from history who would it be? Probably Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston. I'd catch Michael right after "Off the Wall" and give him a good talking to. "OK, OK, but just the nose, Michael. Lay off the rest of your face. And, er, how do I put this? No sleep-overs with kids, awight? The kids'll love you to death, but, their parents? And, geezus, the goddamn press? They will make you wanna scream 'til you OD!" And, I'd catch Whitney while she's scoping out Mr. Brown at the Soul Train Music awards. "Bobby? Really? I mean, he's got something, undeniably, and he's pretty ambitious, but c'mon...what happened with Eddie Murphy? OK, OK, if you must, just hit Bobby off. But then keep it moving. Believe me, he's a one-night stand...at best!"
The strangest thing I have ever eaten is: Natto. Basically fermented beans. The kind of thing I dreaded seeing and smelling when I was a kid is a breakfast staple in Japan so naturally I've tried it. Unlikely I'll ever try it again, though.
Friendship and laughter…are essential to any relationship. When all the hoopla is over, when the romantic moments become far and few between, when the funds are low, or the debts are high, when illness or tragedy strike, when sex isn't as high a priority as it used to be, if you find yourself with someone you actually like to be around, that you share common interests with, and that you can laugh with, you'll likely come through it together.
PRAISE FOR HI! MY NAME IS LOCO AND I AM A RACIST
“I was genuinely caught off guard by this book in so many ways. I didn't hope to laugh as much as I ended up doing, but I never expected to cry. The book blew me away on three different levels…I expected to read a really long blog about Japan made into a book. I got the best damn read I've had in the last 10 years by a man who has proven to me beyond any doubt that he is a uniquely talented writer, who I hope gets this into print, and writes much more.” - Hikosaemon
“I laughed. I cried. I read it again. Thanks to Baye for laying it out there with intense honesty, helping me realize I'm a racist too.” - Rob Nugen
“This review doesn't do justice to the writing skill of McNeil, and the way he bares himself for his reader. Not only does he write about facing his own racist feelings throughout his life, he invited the reader to do the same. It isn't pretty, but it is honest and worth the trip…This book is important for those who will let it be important to them.” - Vincent Golden
“This book is a truth like it has never been told. I've been in Japan for the past 20+ years and felt as if Loco had somehow followed me around all this time and now writing parts of my story…This is a very well written book and I recommend it to anyone in Japan, coming to Japan or just interested in the country, & culture. Thanks you Loco for telling our story.” - Chris
“Kudos to Baye for looking a very ugly demon in the face, grabbing it by the horns, and getting the upper hand in dealing with it. Of course, the demon is racism--a topic that Baye explores in all its colors, ranging from what some people think is ‘benign’ to its downright ugly and nasty forms…this book made me uncomfortable at times and made me think too hard. But I really am glad I read it and appreciate the brain activity it stimulated as well as the emotions it evoked. I sincerely mean it. I learned a lot about myself in the process and highly recommend ‘Hi! My Name Is Loco and I Am A Racist.’” - Kan Yamamot
“Beyond being a open discussion about racial tensions and pressures in America and the world, Baye's own story is compelling…Ultimately, what I enjoyed most about this book is the way that it showcases how overwhelming stereotypes can be and how insignificant they become in one-on-one relationships. And I love how Baye constantly looks for (and generally finds) the good in others and in himself. I highly recommend this book as a fabulous tale and a needed lesson.” - Ellen Weeren
For more information about Baye, please visit:
We hear so much about moms and the great job that they do, but what about dads? There are many men that take joy in being a great father. To celebrate Father’s Day we are highlighting a few fabulous fathers. They’re men, they’re authors, they’re dads and we salute them!
James Fant is a native of Greenville, South Carolina, and currently resides in the South Carolina Low country. He has always possessed a passion for learning and reading, which prompted his undergraduate study in the field of Biology, and later a Master’s in Business Administration. While he is successful in his career as a Grant Administrator, he has a greater calling to meet the needs of others through fiction. He wanted to address relationship issues and attempt to mend broken bonds with clean language. This set the stage for his two novels, An Ode for Orchids and Fourteen Pages. James plans to publish many works that will encourage his readers to analyze and repair their personal relationships. He is a family man with a wife and two children who he dedicated his first publication to. He continues to work with them in mind.
What is your favorite thing about being a dad? My favorite thing about being a dad is receiving the round of applause and cheers of “Daddy! Daddy!” when I walk through the door each day. Some may come home to empty, quiet spaces and they may enjoy that. My space is never empty and NEVER quiet. But again, I love it. My children hug me each and every day when I come through the door. It is one of the highlights of my day.
One of my greatest prayers is that I do a good job raising my children. It is not only an honor, but it is also an awesome duty. I am a central figure in their life. My wife and I are responsible for teaching them about God and guiding their paths. We are responsible for taking care of them. In the hustle and bustle of the day, and amid extremely busy schedules, my prayer is that I do a good job. I do not want to fail my children.
Antoine ‘Inch’ Thomas
Antoine Thomas, the youngest of six and a former spelling bee champ, is the author of four and contributor of two anthologies. He has also co-written several novels, a screenplay, and starred in the movie ‘Black Barbie.’ Antoine is the CEO & Publisher of Amiaya Entertainment.
What is your favorite thing about being a dad? I love being a role model, enjoying the feeling I get when I pick my kids up from school or daycare & they run & jump up into my arms.
D K Gaston
D K Gaston was born in Detroit, Michigan. He served with the US Army Infantry. After leaving the military he earned his Bachelor’s degree and began a career in Computer Networking. He has earned two Masters Degrees. D K Gaston is a devoted husband and father residing in Michigan. He is currently working on his next novel.
What is your favorite thing about being a dad? The best part of being a dad is being reminded of all the simple pleasures I used to enjoy as a child. I love making my kids laugh and them making me. What I favor most of all--I love being loved by my children.
K'wan is a multiple literary award winner and bestselling author of over a dozen titles.
He has been featured in: Vibe, Pages, King, The Library Journal, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Press, and Time Magazine, to name a few. K’wan currently resides in New Jersey where he is working on his next novel.
What is your favorite thing about being a dad? My favorite thing about being a dad is looking at my daughters and seeing the best parts of me. They represent my lost innocence, everything about me that hasn't been tainted by life or hardships. They are my inspiration and I do any and all things in my power to keep them happy and flying straight. Whenever they tell me they love me, it’s like winning an Olympic medal.
I encourage more men to step up and be active in the lives of their children on more than just Father's Day. Mothers are accredited with the raising of our children, but in the best case scenarios it’s a team effort. Whether you're with the mom or not, children still need their daddies and it fills me with great pride to know that I am a constant fixture in the life of my daughters, as I should be and always will be!
“Nothing I’ve ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children.” - Bill Cosby
We do hope you’ve enjoyed our tribute to fathers. If you haven’t already had a chance to check out our author-dads’ books, we encourage you to do so. Until next time, happy reading!
Stepping to the stage is: OOSA
The entire month of April was devoted to nominations for the ALL THINGS LITERARY AWARDS. The month brought in hundreds of nominations and the start of phase two in our nomination process. Sifting through hundreds of nominations was a lot of work. To begin, all ineligible entries were discarded. Sadly, that was a large number. Many simply did not follow instructions by including books beyond the specified timeframe or submitting incomplete entries.
How did we arrive at the final nominees? There was a two-prong method.
They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but that’s exactly what we did. In our case, the back covers. A book is a package and the back cover or the synopsis is very much a part of that package. Many use it as a review tool to see if a book is worth their time. That is what our first committee did. They scoured over the synopses of all eligible nominations. Like the final judging process, it was done so blindly. Books were narrowed down based on their synopsis minus the book’s title, author’s name and any other identifying information. The committee looked for well-written, provocative book descriptions. Creativity and quality were crucial elements.
While a synopsis may catch one’s attention, it’s what’s inside the book that holds one’s attention. Excerpts of the nominated works were also taken into consideration. Again, it was done so blindly. And as with the synopses, our committee was looking for quality and intriguing excerpts that made them want to read more.
The final nominations are those that ranked the highest by the committee.
It is important to us to create an awards event based on the merit of work and simply not a popularity contest. Authors pour their blood, sweat and tears and days, months and years into their work and we want to recognize them. We want to celebrate great writing. We want to celebrate great writers. We hope that we are doing so with the ALL THINGS LITERARY AWARDS. By using a blind process in nominations and final judging, it does not matter who an author is, who the publisher is, where an author lives, who an author is friends with, how many/few books an author has, or how popular an author is on social networking sites. Authors are on an equal playing field and all that matters is writing.
Now it’s up to our judges to have the final say. We set out to create a panel of fair, honest and discerning judges. Serious consideration was given to who would make up this panel. We sought judges of all ages, both sexes with various reading palettes from all over. We wanted avid readers that could dissect books for their strengths and weaknesses and would not simply be wowed by glamour, drama, sex, or action. This panel has until the end of August to read the nominated works while agreeing to remain anonymous to further ensure the integrity of the process. The panel will evaluate the books on elements key to writing such as development, creativity and quality. The nominees will be announced to the public after the judging is over, and the winners will be announced at OOSA’s Annual Pajama Jam on October 26, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.
In addition, the Brenda Hampton Honorary Literacy Award winner will be announced. The winner of this award represents unique individuals who put forth every effort to uphold the standards of African American Literature. This honor includes writers, reviewers, editors, and publishers, agents…all who have remained dedicated to the cause for years, who have inspired many others along the way and who have had a great impact on the industry as a whole.
Recognizing and celebrating hard work, talent and quality. Building an awards event you can be proud of!
About Us: OOSA Online Book Club is an award-winning book club and reviewing team founded in 2005.
It is FOR and ABOUT authors. Here we shine the light on authors who we’ve read, reviewed and recommend to others. In this edition we are shining our light on another gifted author…
I am probably the most arrogant, humble, timid, courageous, fragile, thick-skinned, intelligent, yet ignorant black girl that you will ever me meet. As Octavia Butler said best, “I am an oil and water combination.” I’m brimming and bubbling with passion and it has finally exploded into every area of my life.
I love life. I love learning. I love love. I learn from everything: internal and external, young and old, black and white, foolish and wise. Yet the more I learn, the more that I learn just how little I know.
I am Joan, Maya, Toni, Lynn, and even Monica. I am Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a student and God forbid, should any of these titles be terminated then I will write about it.
Therefore, I am a writer.
Reading and writing has always been my thing. I was the kid reading under the covers with a flashlight. I would save my lunch money so that I could shut the book fair down and to this day, I have shoeboxes full of journals. I knew that I would eventually become an author and my journey started after I’d read about five horrible books in a row and decided to go for it. As Toni Morrison said best, “Write the book you want to read.”
I did exactly that and now have one published novel, "What the Devil Meant for Bad," and a mini three-book series, "Black Mail: Books 1-3." My next book, "Getting Across," is due to be released this December. I'm also coauthoring a work of nonfiction, "So You Want to Write: How Not to Suck."
GETTING TO KNOW TRELANI…
What song do you listen to when you're having a bad day and why? India Arie’s “Wings of Forgiveness.” It reminds me that this moment is only the NOW. I’ve been through so much and I have so much more to look forward to. Release the negative energies and move on.
If you had to create your favorite milkshake what would it include? Milkshakes equal bubble guts. No thanks!
Truth or Dare. Which one were you? Dare! Let’s do it!
What is the last movie you watched that made you laugh so hard you cried? “Life” with that crazy behind Martin, Eddie, Bernie, and everybody else. Watch it five times in a row and you’ll have abs. I promise.
Every woman should carry a… weapon and an emergency stash of cash...in her purse. The weapon is of her preference. Mine is a pen knife. My mother’s is a bible.
What is the ringtone on your cell phone? The old school ring, ring, ring.
If you had one wish, what would it be? I wish that neither money nor health was an issue for anyone.
Who is someone from your past you're sorry you lost track of? Not a soul. They were lost in the past for good reason.
Pen or pencil? Pen.
What’s one question that you hate to be asked? I hate all questions that begin with “what’s your favorite.”
PRAISE FOR WHAT THE DEVIL MEANT FOR BAD
"’What the Devil Meant for Bad’ is thoroughly engrossing and is simply riveting. The character was so real…When you're finished reading this book, if your life hasn't been altered or your questions still aren't clear...then open up your Bible and finish receiving what God has for you!” - Crystal Green
“AWESOME!! Kept my interest peaked...Took my on a journey....Characters were REAL!! A definite page turner. DRAMA.....Some surprises along the way...Totally a great read I recommend it highly!!” - Jarvis D. Dean
“WHAT THE DEVIL MEANT FOR BAD by T.M. Duncan is engaging from start to finish…This is definitely a story worthy of a recommendation.” - OOSA “
Great read, kept you wanting more. The main character was real, she wasn't perfect and didn't give up. This book shows how far a person can make it with God in their life. Can not wait to see what the next book has to come.” – D. Hearon
“I have often appreciated books that show the evolution of a person. This book, for me, represents so much more. It showcases the evolution of a person's soul...I enjoyed this book immensely and look forward to more from this up and coming writer!” – B. Mitchell
For more information about Trelani, please visit:
Google+: Trelani Duncan
Stepping to the stage is: Nikki - Michelle
Let’s talk about the word hate and how it implies to the African American Literary community. I’m new to this club of being called a writer/author. Over the last past year or so it seems as if the book world has turned into the rap industry. From the cliques to the “book-beef,” it has all become one big rodeo or circus, depending on how you look at it. The word hate gets thrown around so much you would think there was absolutely no other way to describe a person’s opinion of your work, especially if they don’t agree with the masses. Everybody screams hater this and hater that. Allow me to elaborate, will you?
Hate is the intense emotion of anger with that of a judgmental overtone and malicious intent. There have been countless posts where an author has vehemently declared that a reviewer is hating on them if the review isn’t favorable. I’ve seen posts where authors have even gone as far as to threaten the lives of reviewers or threaten to do them bodily harm. Riddle me this, why is it so hard for an author to believe not everyone is going to like their work? Just because your friends and family enjoyed it does not mean the readers will. Even if readers enjoy your work, not every single one of them will like it or rate it five stars. And please, for the love of God, just because your book has been picked up by a major publishing house doesn’t mean the reader is wrong in his or her less than favorable assessment of your work.
However, let me tell you what hate is. Hate is you sitting on Facebook trying to insinuate that your paperback book is worth more than an e-book simply because it’s a paperback. Real readers know that it doesn’t matter if the literary work is in paperback or if it’s an e-book. It’s what’s behind the covers, the content of the book that counts. Hate is you telling people not to buy a particular book because of the genre it’s in. Hate is you lumping all the poorly written novels together and yelling that it’s Street Lit that’s killing the literary industry for African Americans. We all know that isn’t true as I have read some absolutely horribly written romance novels and some greatly written Street Lit novels.
Hate is not someone telling you that the synopsis you posted is full of errors. Hate is not someone recommending you get an editor before you put out another book. Hate is not someone suggesting you take your work serious enough to reconsider calling yourself a writer/author until you learn the difference between their, there, and they’re. I call that constructive criticism. When it comes to the point where you think your written work is above reproach, you’re in the wrong business. In closing, stop screaming everyone hates on you and start realizing that some people are just telling you the truth.
Nikki-Michelle resides in Metro-Atlanta, Georgia, by way of Mississippi. Carried by her love of reading, she began writing at the early age of 12 and has been on a journey of "trying" to pen the perfect novel ever since (she's still working on that). She is one half of the host and CEO for the internationally known blog talk radio show Seriously Sensual and is in the process of continuing her education. She is a married mother of two and an avid reader. Her love of writing and wanting to create stories of love, hurt, drama, and real life situations is what inspires her to continue on her on journey to pen the perfect novel (she's still working on that). You can catch her works in the previously released anthologies If Only For One Night, Full Figured 3, and Girls From Da Hood 7. She has a stand-alone novel' Tell Me No Secrets and 'Tell Me No Lies, set to be released September 24, 2013.
It is FOR and ABOUT authors. Here we shine the light on authors who we’ve read, reviewed and recommend to others. In this edition we are shining our light on another gifted author...
Michael Evans was once one of the top three-card Monte dealers in Midtown Manhattan during the '80s. No stranger to redemption in an urban setting, Michael grew up in poverty on the streets of the Bronx. His early life was in a home with an alcoholic mother, no father, and his mother's cousin Reggie, whose moral compass was “totally bizarre, buck wild and crazy.” He wrote his autobiographical work It Was All in the Cards: The Life and Times of Midtown Mike.
Over the past 27 years, Michael Evans evolved from a conniving street hustler to a responsible father of two, and believe it or not, he's now a retired corrections officer. His works of urban literature are redemption-themed.
GETTING TO KNOW MIKE…
What would you do with a million dollars? I would invest some of it in mutual funds. $400,000 in an annuity and then take my wife on a long vacation. I know in real life one million dollars is only $600,000 after the taxman cometh.
How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as a guy who changed his life around from being a hustler slash conman in Midtown Manhattan to becoming a retired State Peace officer, critically acclaimed author of eleven years and a positive role model for others. I am also a real father to my two sons even after growing up without a father due to suicide
What is your favorite word? Results.
In your opinion, what makes a great relationship? I think not being a phony person who is deceitful and untrustworthy can make for great relationships. Some people wear different masks in life to please others but in due time their true nature gets revealed. I choose to treat people the way I want to get treated and also not act like I am better than them. Never let your ego get bigger than your accomplishments.
You just got a free plane ticket to anywhere. You have to depart right now. Where are you going go? The Promised Land.Just joking. I would go to Las Vegas with my Diva wife because I have never been there.
My weirdest phobia is: I am claustrophobic and have a fear of being trapped inside anything. I also have a fear of being broke so I protect my hard-earned finances. When I was a child we were so poor that I would go to the store with just one penny to buy a piece of candy. Nowadays pennies and even dollars are worth practically nada.
What do you think of reality TV? I hate reality TV because a lot of times it depicts people in a bad way - dummies, haters, superficial, sluts, and only caring about themselves or what they can get. People are more than what's being portrayed.
Were you named after anyone? My name Michael comes from the bible. The funny thing is, when my mother was mad at me she would scream,"Mike-ka."
Are you a daredevil? Yes, I am a daredevil. I once jumped from a cliff into 20 feet of water at Action Park. I can also remember as a child jumping from six-story abandoned buildings on to dirty mattresses without a care in the world.
What is the last movie you watched that you'd recommend? ‘Pride and Glory’ with actor Colin Farrell. It is a great movie about corrupt cops who wind up getting their just due. Life has taught me that if you do dirt, you get dirt.
PRAISE FOR SON OF A SNITCH
“Michael Evans has written a compelling story of life on the streets. His characters are well fleshed out and believable…It is an interesting read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in what really happens on the streets.” - The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
“’Son of A Snitch’ examines the repercussions of a father's actions on a family. Actions that he thought would spare his family only cause them greater harm. Michael Evan's storyline is dark and disturbing as readers watch Jessie's mental state deteriorate and not to mention the sick relationship between Jessie and Crystal. Dark and disturbed withstanding ‘Son of A Snitch’ proves to be a fulfilling read.” – Delonya Conyers
PRAISE FOR SON OF A SNITCH Part Two: The Bastard
“’Son of a Snitch Part II: The Bastard’ will appeal to readers of its predecessor ‘Son of a Snitch.’ Michael Evans again weaves a fast-paced, well-written story and brings freshness to this genre. With its solid plot and good use of characters, this is an entertaining read.” - OOSA
“I read book 2 and it was a better read than part one.” – Kimmy
For more information about Michael Evans, please visit: http://www.authormichaelevans.net/